- - Monday, April 9, 2018

“Djibouti’s president for life moves towards China, threatening U.S. security interests” (Web April 3) is an erroneous and grossly misleading headline. Djibouti does not have a “president for life,” nor does op-ed writer L. Todd Wood say it does. Djibouti is a democratic country with a Constitution.

Mr. Wood’s piece points out the following facts about Djibouti: It is “strategically important to the United States military,” it “has been a reliable partner in fighting terror,” and its president, the democratically elected Ismail Omar Guelleh, “has long been a U.S. ally.” Indeed, Djibouti promptly stepped up to the global ‘war on terror’ and hosts the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa. It makes its own decisions, as all sovereign nations do.

Mr. Wood’s piece criticizes Djibouti’s relationship with China, considering it a threat to U.S. interests. Mr. Wood is entitled to his opinion, but our U.S.-military friends and allies understand that Djibouti needs to dramatically expand its infrastructure to be an efficient, reliable service provider, and China has contributed to that endeavor. Any other country that offers to help us reach that goal would be welcomed as well. There are certainly opportunities for the United States to develop its economic relationship with Djibouti.

Mr. Wood’s unfair and inaccurate statement that President Guelleh has moved “in an autocratic direction, changing the country’s constitution to indefinitely extend his stay” offers no facts to support it, as there are none.

The continued strength of the relations between the United States and Djibouti will be on display again at the fourth annual Djibouti-U.S. Binational Forum, scheduled to take place in Djibouti later this month. We are proud of our alliance with the United States and will continue to further strengthen it.


Ambassador of Djibouti to the United States


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